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  • Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan knew he wanted Western legent Sam Elliott to be a part of the prequel series 1883.
  • Elliott says he was “grateful” to take on the role of “tough-as-nails” cowboy Shea Brennan.
  • Why Sheridan told the Oscar nominee “you’ll hate me at the end of this thing.”
1883 star Sam Elliott in costume on the set of the Yellowstone prequel
Sam Elliott on ‘1883’ | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan knew he wanted Sam Elliott to star in the prequel 1883. Even though the 77-year-old veteran actor thought he was too old for the part, Sheridan insisted that the Oscar nominee would be perfect.

Elliott says he is “grateful” and “fortunate” that he listened and agreed to take the role of “tough-as-nails, handsome cowboy” Shea Brennan. He also revealed that Sheridan told him “you’ll hate me at the end of this thing.” But Elliott says that’s not possible.

Sam Elliott wouldn’t reveal much about the ‘Yellowstone’ prequel

Details about 1883 have been kept under wraps. But we do know that the prequel will tell the origin story of John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) beloved Yellowstone Ranch. The series stars Elliott, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Billy Bob Thornton. And the title is a nod to the late 19th century time period when John’s ancestors moved to Montana.

“It’s a story about the Oregon Trail in general,” Elliott told The Hollywood Reporter. “We start out in Fort Worth, Texas, and we’re headed to Oregon. Along the way, a contingent ends up in Montana. It is a couple of generations before the Costner tale.”

The ‘1883’ star is driven by ‘what is on the page’

Elliott says that there was a time during his 50+ year career when he would have done anything for work. But ultimately, “what is on the page” is the most important thing. And that’s why he got involved with 1883.

“So, what is on the page is what has always driven me. When I started reading this thing, I thought I was too old for it in the beginning, but Taylor kept telling me that I wasn’t. And that is what brought me to it,” Elliott revealed.

The ‘Yellowstone’ creator told Sam Elliott he would ‘hate’ him at the end of ‘1883’

Elliott says that his experience working on season 1 of the Yellowstone prequel has been both “wonderful” and “grueling” at the same time.

“Taylor told me, ‘You’ll hate me at the end of this thing,'” Elliott said. “There is no chance that is ever going to happen. But it’s a tough shoot. We shot in Fort West for almost two months in 106-degree temperatures. Montana was the complete opposite. Bitterly cold and freezing.”

The Big Lebowski alum had nothing but praise for Sheridan, saying he is a “brilliant writer” and a “genius.” He said the project was inspiring on a lot of levels, and he was in awe of his 21-year-old co-star Isabel May (Elsa Dutton).

“Every time she opens her mouth in a scene, she is just mesmerizing. This is going to be the beginning of a long career if that’s what she wants,” Elliott noted.

‘1883’ is nothing like Sam Elliott’s previous westerns

Elliott has starred in numerous westerns during his lengthy career, but he says he has never worked on anything like 1883 in terms of scope and size.

“There are more horses, more wranglers and more production people than I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never worked on a show that has six cameras operating at the same time and a helicopter in the air. They’re getting their money’s worth,” Elliott said.

The ‘Yellowstone’ prequel doesn’t look like a TV show — ‘It is a 10-hour story’

Elliott noted that the directors on 1883 were cinematographers that Sheridan “bumped up from Yellowstone.” Which means they understand what they are looking for through the lens.

“It does not look like a television show by any means. They are not making a television show here, even though they say there are. It is a 10-hour story,” Elliott promised.


‘Yellowstone’ Fans Have ‘Never Seen Anything Like’ ‘1883’ Promises Spinoff Star Faith Hill

The special two-hour premiere of 1883 airs Sunday, December 19, after Yellowstone on the Paramount Network. It will then move exclusively to Paramount+.